Debbie Levin advises moms who are not feeling bonded to try not to blame themselves, and to take the relationship slowly. “Don't force yourself to be with the baby all the time if it's not working. Focus on doing something that you do enjoy – if that is bathing the baby, for instance, set aside a little period of time to really enjoy that.”
“Reevaluate your expectations of motherhood,” suggests Claire Marketos. “The 'perfect mother' is not what your baby needs. Take a moment to be still and get in touch with your instincts or 'inner voice' through meditation. Don't sweat the small stuff.”
Ask for and accept help, especially from your partner. If friends and family are happy to take care of some of the daily chores, or cook a meal, or fetch older kids from school, accept gratefully. It will allow you to catch up on sleep and recover from the birth, and give you time to really get to know and love your baby. Snuggle up with him and take a nap. Bath together. Sing to him. Spend 10 minutes marveling at his tiny fingers and toes.
Talk to friends who have young babies, or join a mom and baby group. It's reassuring to know that others have similar experiences. “Spend time with people who are warm and nurturing and avoid people who are critical and overbearing, even if they are your own family,” says Claire. “Receiving love and support for yourself makes it easier to give love and support to your children.”
Meet your own needs for sleep, downtime and nutrition, so that you can be strong, healthy and consciously present for your baby. Eat well and take a multivitamin if your doctor advises it – now's not the time to try and diet away that post-baby weight. If you don't get the nutrients your body needs you won't be able to cope with the demands of looking after a small baby, and nutritional deficiencies may even adversely affect your bonding. Mothers who suffer from iron deficiency may be less emotionally involved with their children after birth, according to a 2005 study done by researchers of Pennsylvania State University. Get out into the sunshine for Vitamin D and fresh air.
If you feel that you are not forming a positive attachment to your baby, don't feel guilty; it doesn't mean you are a bad mother or a bad person. Talk to your doctor. They are accustomed to dealing with new moms in your position. The sooner you get professional help, the sooner you will feel better and the sooner you will be able to really bond with your baby.
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Postnatal Depression Support Association
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Published by: Your Baby and reproduced with permission from www.YourParenting.co.za